April 26th, 2014 marked the seventh time Like A Storm had played the Machine Shop. However, this time their show was nothing like anyone here had seen before.
Instead of a high energy, in-your-face, loud rock nâ€™ roll show, these three brothers (Chris Brooks, Kent Brooks, and Matt Brooks) decided to strip their music down to its bare bones and play an intimate â€˜unpluggedâ€™ acoustic set of songs collected from their back catalog.
This was a first for the majority of the 300+ in attendance. However, it was nothing new to the Stormtroopers (die-hard LAS fans) in the crowd. Most of us have experienced Like A Storm playing one of their private unplugged shows during off nights on their tours.
In fact, my first introduction to the band was a private acoustic show they did at a friendâ€™s house in Flushing, Michigan back in 2012. Having seen them perform their â€˜rockâ€™ show every time since then, it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to see them perform acoustic again.
Let me tell you, whether it is an acoustic show or a regular show, these guys do NOT disappoint! Chris opened up the show playing his didgeridoo intro, The End of the Beginning, that has become a staple at every one of their shows. People love the â€˜didgeâ€™ and these guys have definitely found their niche by incorporating it as a regular part of their band.
Like A Storm rolled through many of their classic tunes, such as Lie To Me, Chemical Infatuation, Never Surrender, Enemy, Break Free, Love The Way You Hate Me as well as an incredible rendition of Interstate Love Song (originally recorded by Stone Temple Pilots). Interstate Love Song was a personal highlight for me. Although it was done acoustic, these three brothers played the song with as much heart, soul, and intensity as the original version.
Chris, Kent, and Matt told us the stories behind their songs, giving their set a similar feeling to that of MTV Unplugged or VH1 Storytellers. They were very humble always thanking their fans for their undying support. They even sent out a personal thank you to Tony Labrie of Banana 101.5 Flint Rock Radio for being the first DJ to push Love The Way You Hate Me on FM radio. They said it was because of the support from the Banana that SiriusXM Radio gave the song a chance. And, it is because of their loyal fan support that Love The Way You Hate Me has made it to #1 on SiriusXM Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown, beating out the likes of Pop Evil, Five Finger Death Punch, Three Days Grace, Avenged Sevenfold, and Seether. Not too bad for an independent band!
Our photographer, Thom Seling, was on hand to catch their act. Here are his images from that night.
I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with these guys after their set. Here is that interview:
NRR: You just came off of your tour with Scott Stapp. How did that tour go?
Matt: We spent the beginning of the year in New Zealand then came back and it was an awesome start to the year. Scott and the guys were amazing to us, we made a lot of new fans and we got to kick out the jams in a lot of new cities. It was awesome.
NRR: With Roye Robley no longer in the band, you had to audition new drummers. Who was the drummer that you found?
Matt: We had Justin Pitlik, who is a drummer from Wisconsin, audition for us over YouTube. It was kind of cool for us. We were sitting in New Zealand on our holiday while looking at drummers auditioning from all over the US. There were a lot of great drummers who auditioned. It was pretty amazing to see the level of talent that is out there. Justin did a great audition so we hit him up. He was keen to come out for the tour so he came out with us and he killed it!
NRR: If I’m not mistaken, Justin only committed to doing the Scott Stapp tour and here you are now out on an acoustic tour with Zach Myers (Shinedown). How’s this tour going?
Chris: It’s going awesome man. It’s really fun to go from a rock tour where you are doing the House Of Blues in Chicago and a lot of other big venues to then going to doing smaller venues on this acoustic tour. It’s one extreme to the other. You take away the lights and the noise of huge amplifiers and cut it back. It’s been a lot of fun, man. Zach’s a great dude. We toured with Shinedown in 2010 and we’ve kind of been friends ever since.
NRR: My first time seeing you guys was an acoustic show. Here you are playing your seventh show at the Machine Shop and I get the chance to see you acoustic again.
Chris: Yeah, it’s cool to take venues where we played as a rock band and come back and do our acoustic thing.
Matt: I kind of feel that as the acoustic tour has gone on that we’ve incorporated more of the rock stuff into our set. All of the crowd participation and everything that is such a big part of our live show I feel like now after playing a few weeks of acoustic shows that we’ve started to really work that up. It’s pretty cool because It’s not really what I expected. It’s a fun way to do the acoustic stuff but do it in a way that we would do a rock show.
NRR: This tour is currently coming to an end. How long has this tour with Zach Myers been?
Kent: We finished the tour with Scott Stapp in Atlanta then we had to get right back to Chicago where we keep all of our gear in storage. Then we had to meet up with Zach down in Texas. So, we did this huge upside down V of the US to hurry and get down to College Station, TX for the kick off to the tour. That was on April 13th. Our last show with Zach is tomorrow night at the Foundry in Jackson, MI then we are taking our ‘rock’ show back on the road with Saving Abel.
NRR: How long will you be out with Saving Abel?
Kent: We will be out with them until Bratfest (WJJO festival in Madison, WI) which is the 23rd of May and then we will be doing some radio dates plus the Knitting Factory in both Boise, ID (May 29) and Spokane, WA (May 30). Oh, and also the Bourbon Room in Lincoln, NE (May 24). These dates are all kinda based around the Love The Way You Hate Me single. The Spokane show is already sold out. It’s gonna be great to head out West especially since concentrating on the Midwest, East and South with these last tours. We want to try and spread it all around you know.
NRR: Do you have a drummer lined up for the Saving Abel tour?
Matt: We do. We have a guy from Nashville named Jesse.
Chris: Nashville has an amazing group of musicians. We got to know Jesse through some mutual friends and we are looking forward to playing some shows with him.
Kent: We get one day of rehearsal with him before the tour starts.
NRR: You’ll be coming back through Michigan with Saving Abel?
Kent: Yeah, we’ll be playing the All Around in Taylor, MI on May 17th.
NRR: I saw on the Machine Shop website that Saving Abel are going to be here on June 27th. Are you going to be part of that show?
Kent: No. We’ve got a couple of other tour offers but nothing has been confirmed yet, however we will be back in the area to play Dirtfest (Dalton Bros. & Banana 101.5 produced festival in Birch Run, MI).
NRR: Any specifics as to your set time for Dirtfest?
Matt: Not yet but it’s the weekend of August 9th.
Chris: We’ve been hearing about this festival ever since we’ve been touring the States. It’s awesome to finally have the opportunity to play it.
Kent: Thanks to the Banana for giving us this opportunity.
NRR: Speaking of the Banana, have you guys given any thought as to the next single you are going to release to radio? Maybe another song to put up on the Banana’s Cockfight?
Chris: It’s come up but we are still riding the wave of Love The Way You Hate Me.
NRR: Are you open to suggestions?
Chris, Kent & Matt: Always!
NRR: Break Free. I think that should be your next single. Love The Way You Hate Me was a perfect first song for you guys to release to radio. That song had a ‘punch’ to it. With it’s heavy, rhythmic guitars and growling energetic vocals, it was kind of like a statement to the world, your statement, one that says “Pow, we’re here!” I’ve also talked to Tony (Labrie) about his thoughts and he agrees that Break Free is another hit.
Kent: Tony did pick the first one, so…
Chris: Yeah, I think we are gonna leave our career to his advice. He’s been very helpful. You and Tony both have been very helpful to us.
Matt: Between you and Tony, you guys have got it all figured out, ha, ha.
Chris: We are touring Love The Way You Hate Me as much as we possibly can and the crazy thing is that we have much more touring coming in throughout this year. We’ve been as busy as we’ve ever been. Hopefully soon we will start looking at releasing the next single, and maybe it’ll be Break Free.
NRR: Break Free shows another side of you. Love The Way You Hate Me was your introduction to the world, your ‘rocker’ where Break Free shows a more vulnerable side of you.
Chris: Yeah, thanks man. We love that song.
NRR: About the album. You guys independently put it out here in the States. How did it come about being re-released on a major label over in New Zealand?
Chris: It’s really sort of surreal. We are independent here and we’ve always kind of believed in doing everything ourselves while being pro-active. The biggest rock station in New Zealand had already been playing us when one of their DJ’s got in touch with the head of Warner Bros. New Zealand and told him they were about to play this song and asked them if they ever heard of us. The guy then sent us an email.
Matt: He did. Last year I got this email from the guy who was the head of Warner New Zealand saying that our friend at the radio station had let him know what we were up to, thanks largely to the Banana, and he told us he was interested in having a meeting with us.
It was really cool. It just kind of happened organically. We were going home to have a vacation so we went in and met with them. They were really enthusiastic about the album so they put it out down there and Love The Way You Hate Me did really well on radio. Actually, Chaos Theory Pt. 1 sold more in its first week (in New Zealand) than any other CD. It blew our minds, not just because it was us, but because it was us up against the likes of Pharrell and Bruno Mars.
Kent: It was awesome. As a genre you don’t expect to sell more than pop.
NRR: Is there anything else coming down the pipeline from Warner New Zealand or was it a one-off deal?
Matt: There is. They are looking at releasing the follow up single in a couple of months so its like an ongoing thing in New Zealand as much as its an ongoing thing here in the US. We are lucky to have a career that spans two countries.
Kent: Obviously we will get to Chaos Theory Pt. 2 as soon as we can but they (Warner) were really cool. It was important for us to sign with people who believed in the music that we are making and not come in to try to change it. We released Chaos Theory Pt. 1 ourselves. We made it while we were on tour. We recorded it in an unconventional way but we think that is why it came out the way it did and it means so much to us.
NRR: Have you had any offers from any other labels here in the US?
Matt: Yeah. We’ve talked with some different labels. The more that we are out touring and the more that we get played on the radio, the more label interest there has been. It’s been a really exciting time for us with our music out there and being on tour. We’ve been introduced to a lot of people who really wouldn’t have known about us.
Kent: We are looking for someone who gets our vision and understands what we are doing. The first thing some labels will do is try to make you sound like someone else or water down what you are doing. What’s worked for us so far is the fact that that we’ve done exactly what we’ve wanted to do.
Like with Love The Way You Hate Me. It has the didgeridoo break in the middle of it and its something like seven minutes long. Its really unconventional but that’s what we loved about it and it seems that its what other people like about it too.
So, while looking for a label we are not looking for someone who will make a lot of false promises or try to mold us into whatever the big thing is at the time.
Chris: The more success we’ve had the more of the right people have been coming to us. We’ve been getting people who understand both the acoustic side and the rock side of us.
NRR: You’ve done really well on the Banana, as an independent artist, but have also been doing really well on SiriusXM.
Chris: Yeah. All thanks to our fans, man.
Kent: And thanks to Octane for being really cool for playing a new band.
Matt: And our incredible fans for picking up the ball and running with it… to an extent that no one has ever seen before.
Kent: Besides us making the music, we really can’t take any credit for how anything has gone. It’s been the fans voting for us and the fans helping us out with everything they can. It’s mind boggling how far we’ve come with fan support alone.
NRR: And if I’m not mistaken, your #1 on Octane as we speak?
Matt: Yeah, this is the fifth week we’ve been at #1. It’s actually been in the countdown for seventeen weeks now. So, its been in the countdown for every week of this year going back into last year. This is just unbelievable for an independent band, especially an independent band from New Zealand who has never been heard of before. We are very grateful to all of our fans for making this possible and for Octane for playing us in the first place.
Chris: Although the initial thank you goes to the Banana because without them Octane may never have given us a shot.
NRR: What’s in the future for Like A Storm?
Chris: The future is the most exciting thing for us. While we were back in New Zealand we started working on Chaos Theory Pt. 2 and we are really passionate about the music we are creating.
I think the success of Love The Way You Hate Me surprised us but it never would have gotten that way if we hadn’t been following our hearts. You know, following our hearts and playing the exact kind of music that we wanted to play. Its really empowering and really inspiring to now be able to push that vision further.
Matt: We are gonna tour the hell out of 2014 and try to make a new record.
Chris: We want to thank all of our fans who keep coming out to our shows and bringing new fans along with them to discover us. It’s pretty awesome that our fans bring their friends to our shows who in turn become fans themselves then they end up bringing their friends to one of our shows.
NRR: Its almost like your fan base keeps building on a grass roots kind of movement. This being your seventh time here at the Shop, obviously there are a lot of the same fans but I see a lot of new fans discovering you guys, coming up to meet you and buy merch and stuff.
Kent: We have the best fans in the world. Thank you to all those who turn out to shows and keep supporting us. We wouldn’t be here without them.